You know the standard clichés: You fall as fast as you rise — or perhaps “easy come, easy go.” These clichés aren’t axiomatically true. Yet, these clichés seem to be true when applied to specific people. Gov. Scott Walker was elected in 2010 and since then, his prominence has increased in scope. For the most part, once only known in Wisconsin political circles, Walker is now considered a rising star within the national Republican Party. In fact, there is much speculation that Walker may decide to make a serious run for the presidency in 2016. Although Walker is becoming a national political figure, he is at serious risk of losing his seat in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Unless Walker can achieve his lofty campaign promise of creating 250,000 jobs in his first term, he may find himself a one-term governor.
Walker ran for governor promising to create jobs by getting government out of the way of free enterprise. As he said in an interview with Newsradio 620 WTMJ in 2010, “The states that have lowered the cost of doing business by easing their tax burden, easing their regulatory and litigation burden, gets you not only more job growth in the past couple of years, they’ve actually seen greater revenues coming in as more people are working. So part of our agenda is to cut the costs of doing business and getting more people working.” In fact, he promised Wisconsin would create 250,000 jobs during his first term in office under this approach. Yet, he is far away from his goal of creating 250,000 jobs — and his time to do so is dwindling.
He signed laws that limited people’s right to collectively bargain and gave tax breaks to the richest people and corporate entities in this state, presumably to “create” 250,000 new jobs. Yet, I do not see robust job growth. Instead, I see stagnancy. Just last June, Wisconsin ranked 49th in the country in economic outlook according to report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. In that same month, Walker ranked 40th out of 45 governors in terms of job growth according to The Business Journals. This ranking makes sense. After all, according to Politifact Wisconsin, the Walker administration has only created 84,482 jobs since taking office — with 165,518 more jobs to go.
This stagnant job growth is a negative sign for Walker’s 2014 re-election efforts. Marquette University Law School pollster Charles Franklin has said, “Republicans who think we’re falling short on jobs are 20 percent less approving of Walker than those who don’t (think we’re falling short). For independents the gap is more than 50 percent. So (the message that Walker has failed on jobs) clearly has the potential to move people.” Not only are Walker’s job numbers hurting his chances at being re-elected in 2014, he also faces a potential opponent who is poised to take the governorship.
Mary Burke, a former Trek executive, is considered a front-runner for the Wisconsin gubernatorial Democratic nomination. With her business background, she seems more credible to Wisconsin voters in regards to any claims she makes about creating jobs. In contrast, Walker has lost his credibility because of failing to fulfill his ambitious job creation promise of 250,000 new jobs. Not only will Burke seem more credible to Wisconsin voters because of her business background, she will appeal to voters who want a political moderate in the governor’s mansion — a recipe for political success. Unless Walker finds a way to create more than 160,000 jobs before next election, he will be looking for a new job himself.
Aaron Loudenslager ([email protected]) is a second year law student.